Volunteering is a chance to sleep in a local, Indonesian-style house, sample fresh, home-cooked fare and socialize with a group of inquisitive and friendly young Indonesians. Cianjur-West Java is a small town located in between two big cities, Jakarta as a capital city and Bandung as a province capital city. I and my friends, mostly English teachers would like to invite any volunteers to motivate and improve our student's English ability, because Cianjur town is off the beaten track, there is hardly any tourist around anywhere you go.
Helping with Tourists
Volunteers can get a free accommodation with a private room, and meals, especially for breakfast and lunch. They can also get a free tour in surrounding area. They can also learn Bahasa Indonesia if they want.
Our programme was created in 2010 by a small group of English teachers who have been working for several years alongside Native Speakers. The reason that we created this programme is to help the local students and give them the opportunity to learn English with English speaking-people. Cianjur is a non-touristy place with few travellers, so meeting english-speaking people is particularly valued here.
In 2013, our programme was recommended by The Lonely Planet Guide Book. The programme was founded by five locals; the team are enthusiastic and passionate about improving the local student’s English.
Irwan Kumis, who is fluent in English, has been teaching primary school English for 9 years, as well as working for several years as a guide for Western travellers. He previously worked for a German NGO, Forder-und Interessengemeinschaft, as a volunteer in post-Tsunami Reconstruction and Development on Sabang–Weh Island–Aceh. He studied Economics at a University in Cianjur and then some years later, realising his love for teaching, studied English Education. Much of his free time is spent working and socializing with different people from around the world.
Ade Setiawan, graduated in economics from university last year in Cianjur. He has an American nick name "Jhon". He is a neighbour of the homestay and he is a cool man. He has plenty of time to guide and look after the volunteers. He did an Indonesian backpacking cross to Bali by hitchhiking.
Syifa Nurul, is an English in a high school. She has been teaching English since 2011. Her English is wonderful and she is a nice lady.
Haseum, is a web designer who builds this website. Now, he is an internet business consultant in Jakarta.
The programme centres around volunteer teaching primarily in local Primary and Secondary Schools but also in university and the prison where native speakers can help students and teachers with their English. Although native speakers are preferred, it is also great for non-natives who speak English to join the programme. Students are excited to meet English speakers from all over the world. If you are an English teacher, you can teach with your own method in which you feel comfortable, however we also have lesson plans.
Our main part of the programme is to help the local students with English because it is the best way to get to know the culture and socialize with the local people, but our programme is flexible. Travellers can choose what they’d like to do, whether it’s visiting countryside, the floating village, botanical gardens, tea plantation, traditional market, ricefields, waterfalls, hotspring, go hiking to the volcano, cycling or even doing Yoga. Travellers might of course be too busy socialising with new friends or fellow teachers they’ve met in Cianjur to do all of these!
The homestay is located in an indonesian neighbourhood where travellers can get an insight into the everyday life in Cianjur. We try our best to immerse our guests in the local culture and environment, so this is a perfect programme for those interested in learning more about Indonesian culture, cuisine or the Bahasa Indonesia.
Recently, we are setting up an English School named “Brighton English School”. It is an afterschool program where students can go and learn English there.
Things to do
Volunteering is about giving but it is also about the experience of sharing time with like-minded people, sharing the languages and sharing the fun. Today's volunteers are part of a wonderful history of selfless giving in the face of need. Their effort has helped people to find new hope against poverty for a better future. Without volunteer English teachers, most children would not have the chance to speak to a native English speaker.
Indonesian English teachers work hard to make their students proficient, but we can add greatly to their effectiveness with regular classes and intensive visits to schools. If the children can master English, their futures are far more promising in this fast-changing country.
English is one of the most useful languages to speak in the world, but it is often difficult for Indonesian students to master the language without having the chance to practice with English speakers. Schools in Indonesia teach English from Primary level (8-11 years) until Secondary level (12-18 years) and volunteer English teachers are always in high demand. Expect teachers to give you a genuinely warm welcome into their schools, often inviting guests to have lunch with them and expect the children to be very excited that they have an english-speaker in their school.
Volunteering positions are great for people of all ages, from recent college graduates to retirees seeking meaningful opportunities to use their knowledge and experience.
We have opportunities for guests to help out in local schools, running conversation classes with students or teaching English using their own methods. Each school is different; some have relaxed learning environments, others are more formal classroom setups. The classes range from around ages 6 to 20. With younger classes the emphasis is on very basic questions and answers, allowing the students a chance to practice their English with a native speaker or English speaking person. Expect the majority of classes to consist of gentle children who have a wonderful sense of humour but are also very shy. It is important for younger students to practise speaking throughout the class and a volunteer can really help with pronunciation and boosting confidence.
With older groups you are free to take initiative or follow a similar question and answer structure - either in one-on-one 'interviews' or by stimulating class discussions. Older students might be particularly nervous about making mistakes so boosting confidence in a friendly environment is key. Older students are often more interested in your background but sometimes they have difficulty translating their questions into English. However, there is always an English speaking teacher on hand to help with translations if necessary. To help prepare for your classes, writing a list of age-appropriate questions at various levels would be extremely useful. Having a few word-based games (hangman, memory games, tic tac toe, etc) are also great as an icebreaker to relax students or to fill up time at the end of the session.
We offer volunteer teaching placements in several local schools, universities and even at a Prison. Volunteer teaching in Cianjur, Indonesia will leave you feeling fulfilled in the knowledge that you’re making a tremendous impact on the future lives of underprivileged children. We are also happy to pass on donations to schools or students on behalf of volunteers.
While the majority of teaching takes the form of one time visits to local schools. We are currently in the process of setting up an English School called “Brighton English School”. It’s an afterschool programme that students can attend after their day at the public school to develop their english skillls. Most of the students have a high motivation to learn English because the language expands their options for the future.
If the volunteers stay for longer than one week, they are able to teach the same groups of students multiple times, giving the classes a sense of continuity and allowing the students and volunteer teacher to develop a relationship beyond that of the usual one-time visits.
This can be an exceptionally rewarding experience as the volunteers see their students develop their language abilities and grow in confidence. There may also be an opportunity for volunteers to accompany students from a local school on a fieldtrip. Destinations include Bandung to visit Tangkuban Perahu and Kawah Putih Volcanoes, Yogyakarta to visit Borobudur and Prambanan Temples, Pangandaran beach, etc. These are excellent opportunities to spend time with the students outside the classroom while seeing the attractions Java is famed for.
Cianjur is a Sundanese land in West Java. Many Indonesian people say that Cianjur people are most friendly people in Indonesia. Cianjur is a thriving town with a population of around 200,000 people, situated at the foot of Gede Pangrango volcanoes in West Java. Cianjur is easily accessible to tourist destinations in Java and other surrounding islands. Although a key transit point between the major cities of Bandung and Jakarta, Cianjur still remains largely unvisited by tourists. It's a land of enchanting natural beauty, blessed with cool mountain air. Cianjur holds several places of interest for visitors, including Volunteer Teaching, Cibodas Botanical Garden, Puncak Pass Area, Tea Plantation, Nusantara Flowers Garden, The Floating Village, Visiting the Villages, Mount Gede Pangrango, Archeological Site and Indonesian Martial Art/Pencak Silat.
Cianjur is famed as a major rice-growing region, particularly for its popular Pandanwangi rice which only grows in Cianjur. Other regional specialties include Maranggi (barbequed beef), Lontong (sticky rice with tofu, crackers, fried onion and coconut milk soup), Batagor (flour and tofu fried with peanut butter sauce and lime), Lotek (steamed vegetable with peanut butter sauce, onion, crackers, chili), Karedok (raw vegetable with peanut butter sauce, onion, crackers, chili), Geco (bean sprout, fresh local noodle, rice covered with coconut leaves, crackers, onion and soy bean sauce), Rice Porridge (chicken, crackers, onion, spring onion, peanut, and chili sauce), Pickled Fruits and Tauco (soy bean sauce).
Hiking to the Volcanoes and Hot Spring
West Java has some volcanoes to visit. One of the most spectacular volcano in West Java is Tangkuban Perahu. Tangkuban Perahu (spelt Tangkuban Parahu in the local Sundanese dialect) is a dormant volcano 30 km north of the city of Bandung, the provincial capital of West Java, Indonesia. It last erupted in 1826, 1829, 1842, 1846, 1896, 1910, 1926, 1929, 1952, 1957, 1961, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1983.
It is a popular tourist attraction where tourists can hike or ride to the edge of the crater to view the hot water springs and boiling mud up close, and buy eggs cooked on the hot surface. The Tangkuban Perahu volcano is famous for its legend.
The name translates roughly to "upturning of (a) boat" or "upturned boat" in Sundanese, referring to the local legend of its creation. The story tells of "Dayang Sumbi", a beauty who lived in West Java. She cast away her son "Sangkuriang" for disobedience, and in her sadness was granted the power of eternal youth by the gods.
After many years in exile, Sangkuriang decided to return to his home, long after the two had forgotten and failed to recognize each other. Sangkuriang fell in love with Dayang Sumbi and planned to marry her, only for Dayang Sumbi to recognize his birthmark just as he was about to go hunting.
In order to prevent the marriage from taking place, Dayang Sumbi asked Sangkuriang to build a dam on the river Citarum and to build a large boat to cross the river, both before the sunrise. Sangkuriang meditated and summoned mythical ogre-like creatures -buto ijo or green giant(s)- to do his bidding.
Dayang Sumbi saw that the tasks were almost completed and called on her workers to spread red silk cloths east of the city, to give the impression of impending sunrise. Sangkuriang was fooled, and upon believing that he had failed, kicked the dam and the unfinished boat, resulting in severe flooding and the creation of Tangkuban Perahu from the hull of the boat.
Ciater Hot Spring
After visiting the volcano, swimming in the hot spring is the best option. There is a nice hot spring swimming pool just a few KM north east of Tangkuban Perahu. It is a hot spring set in gorgeous grounds on the lower slopes on the volcano. There are three large pools, a spa and restaurant. And It is very quiet in the week. The hot spring is an attractive village surrounded by tea plantation.
Visiting the Rural Village
Agriculture is Cianjur's primary business and the vast terrains of terraced rice plantations are always teeming with workers, planting, harvesting the crops or ploughing the land using water-buffalo tractors. Our guests have the opportunity to visit the rice fields and learn about the process – you can even join them for a few hours work in the fields if you want! A walk through the slippery rice plantations offers unbeatable views and a real glimpse into traditional rural lifestyles. Eat in a local home and watch your lunch being cooked on traditional fire-wood stoves.
The Floating Village
The floating village is set at a huge artificial lake at Bobojong Village, around 15 km North of Cianjur, which is used to generate power as well as for household water supplies.
The village itself is a series of floating bamboo huts and is the biggest fish farming community in Indonesia. There are thousands of fish farms in the floating village and at least there is one fish care taker who takes care the fish. There is no electricity, entertainment and friends. Travellers can take a boat out to visit the villages, feed the fish and marvel at the wide variety–Gold fish, Catfish, Coyfish, Alligator fish, Nila fish, Gurame fish... the list is endless!
Most Indonesian tea plantations are owned by the Government and there are three big tea plantations in Cianjur: Gedeh Tea plantation; Pasir Sarongge Tea Plantation and Sukanagara Tea Plantation. Gedeh tea plantation grows black tea and is located about 10 KM Southwest of Cianjur, at the foot of the Gede–Pangrango National Park.
Pasir Sarongge is a green tea plantation, located about 10 KM West of Cianjur and makes a great day trip for travellers. You can watch the tea-pickers at work and have a go at picking the tea yourself, then explore the factory where it is processed and even try a cup for yourself! A stroll through the beautiful tea plantations offers great views of Cianjur.
Gunung Padang Archaeological site is one of Indonesian heritage. It is located at Gunung Padang and Panggulan area, Campaka–Cianjur, 25 km South of Cianjur. Now, this Archaeological site is well-taken care by the local government. The government will do an excavation under the mountain.
The biggest megalithic in South East Asia, it is a difficult route to get there, climbing up stairs to visit the holy area covered in massive volcanic stones, but travellers will pass through the tea plantation and the villages. The scenery is so awesome. But not many people know this Archaeological site.
Thankfully, we have connections with locals who can guide travellers who wish to see the top, and stay in nearby homestays. Many local people go to the Archaeological site for picnic.
Cycling in Indonesia is generally a means of transport, now booming in popularity as petrol price skyrocket. Bicycles are gaining popularity in Cianjur, especially on Sunday morning. There are many local people do a jogging and cycling in a car free day event. The car free day event is a local carnival where the local government closes the main road, just for non-vehicle activities. If reasonably fit with a bit a ton of common sense, cyclists will enjoy cycling to the rice paddy, countryside, forest, floating village, palm plantation, coffee plantation, cacao plantation, vegetable plantation, etc. so far, we have four mountain bikes for our volunteers.
Yoga is a practical aid, not a religion. Yoga is an ancient art based on a harmonizing system of development for the body, mind, and spirit. The continued practice of yoga will lead you to a sense of peace and well-being, and also a feeling of being at one with their environment.
The practice of yoga makes the body strong and flexible, it also improves the functioning of the respiratory, circulatory, digestive, and hormonal systems. Yoga brings about emotional stability and clarity of mind.
Cianjur is the best place for Yoga, because Cianjur has a Yoga course taught by an experienced instructor who has learnt Yoga in India for a while. She wants to share her useful knowledge with the local people.
As well as spending time helping the local children with English, it is possible to learn more about the local food specialities in Cianjur, watch and help prepare them, and more importantly, eat them!
You can watch and assist the local food stall holders whip up a fresh dish of nasi goreng on the street, or watch them preparing the food to sell before they are at their stall. Kumis' mother cooks at home and so it is possible to help her cook your own dinner, as well as help other people cook too. All these experiences are more authentic than a cookery class, as it shows you how and what the locals cook. You also get to eat the food too! There are a lot of local specialities such as beef sate, nasi liwet, and lontong, which can be eaten in great little warungs as well.
Live Music on Weekend
Travellers can hang out and mingle with the local people in the local cafes. This is the most favorite place for young people in Cianjur to hang out, especially on weekends.
Travellers can enjoy being there and drink a local Beer “Bintang or Anker” and conversation with local English teachers, students and musicians – everyone is excited to get to know our guests and will have lots of questions for you! Every Saturday and Sunday evening, travellers can listen a live music performed in town.
Getting Here and Away
Cianjur has many transportation options and is easily reached from Jakarta's Kampung Rambutan bus terminal. There are many half-hourly buses that go to Cianjur via Puncak Pass, a 3 hour journey (25.000 rupiahs economy/30.000 rupiahs air-con bus).
From Jakarta International Airport, take a DAMRI shuttle bus to Bogor for 50.000 rupiahs, then a minivan to Cianjur (around 2 hours, 20.000-25.000 rupiahs).
From Bandung Airport, take a taxi to Bandung Leuwi Panjang bus terminal, or from Bandung Train Station, take a taxi or a DAMRI city bus to Leuwi Panjang bus terminal.
From Bandung Leuwi Panjang bus terminal, there are also many half-hourly buses that head to Cianjur and take less than 2 hours (20.000 rupiahs economy/25.000 rupiahs air-con bus).
From Pangandaran, there is a direct bus to Cianjur for 80.000 rupiahs (7 hours), otherwise take hourly BUDIMAN Bus to Bandung (around 5-6 hours, 45.000-50.000 rupiahs) and connect via local bus to Cianjur.
From Yogyakarta or Solo, there are several night buses that go direct to Cianjur, leaving from Yogyakarta's Giwangan bus terminal or Solo bus terminal in the afternoon (3-5 PM), otherwise take a train to Bandung from Yogyakarta's Tugu Train Station or Solo's Balapan Train Station and connect via local bus to Cianjur.
Indonesian and English
Guests will stay with a local family, who lives in their family home in a kampung (small neighborhood of houses piled atop each other navigated by narrow alleyways) in the heart of Cianjur. Living with local families is an excellent experience that exposes guests to the real everyday life in Indonesia as they interact with the other residents (including the many children!) of the kampung, engage in the everyday activities of an Indonesian family, and even have the opportunity to learn a bit of Bahasa Indonesia and the West Javanese language of Sundanese. Guests are also able to accompany his mother to the local traditional market and to learn how to prepare Indonesian dishes.
The local family provides accommodation in a private room, meals (breakfast and lunch), and for dinner you should find by yourself, except if we cook at home, you can have dinner with us. However, there are so many Indonesian cheap food nearby. Needless to say, the homestay alone is worth the experience!
After doing a volunteer project a few hours in a day, normally we usually take our guest to the tourist attraction, such as to the tea plantation, hotspring, botanical garden, climbing volcano, etc. Or guests can cycle on their spare time around the town, because we also provide bicycle for our guests.
25 hours maximum a week